Many young people struggle with self-acceptance. I know I did. According to Robert Wandberg writing in his YA life skills book, Self-Acceptance: Building Confidence, being okay with who you are is a skill and like any skill with proper guidance it can be learned.
When I was a teenager, I never liked to go to parties. I liked the idea of going to social events and I’d have daydreams about being the belle of the ball, but in reality, I dreaded large gatherings. I’d resist to the point where my friends would come and literally drag me out of the house!
As a teen, I caved to peer pressure and attended parties when I really wanted to be at home with a good book. “Peer pressure can be positive or negative,” writes Wandberg. “Peer pressure can encourage you to not give up on your dreams….Negative peer pressure can involve you in dangerous or illegal behavior.”
Thankfully, I had great friends who did not drink, smoke or do drugs, so there was no pressure in that direction. Because I did not want to go to parties, I thought something was wrong with me. As I grew into adulthood I came to terms with my solitary nature and finally accepted myself for who I was—someone who treasures times with very small groups and especially my time alone. I can enjoy going to parties, but very sparingly. A self-accepting person is self-aware. He or she has a set of values and sticks to them.
Take responsibility for yourself
If you have the ability to see a problem as an opportunity, you have one of the qualities of a self-accepting person, says Wandberg. “It’s all in your attitude. Negative experiences don’t have to ruin your dreams, goals or plans for success…If the situation has bad results, learn from it but don’t dwell on it,” he writes.
Be happy with yourself right now
The world loves prodigies, 14-year-old college graduates and ten-year-old world class concert pianists, however, you might have to take your time and that’s okay. When I was in my early twenties, I met an older woman who told me that success is like water wearing away at a rock. It can take many long years, so be patient. Two of my favorite writers, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Charles Bukowski did not publish their first books until they were in their middle years. Ingalls Wilder was in her sixties and Bukowski was 49.
So if your success is not instant, don’t let that eat away at your happiness. “Don’t save all of your ‘happiness dollars’ for the future,” suggests Wandberg. “Accepting yourself mentally and emotionally means trying to live happily every day. Practice being happy and work hard to enjoy the journey you’re on.”